My W&L: Mary Ashleigh Boles '14

My W&L is watching three different sporting events outside with my friends on a beautiful day, or playing corn hole and eating barbeque on someone's back porch before getting dolled up to attend Fancy Dress. My time here at W&L has been shaped by so many great moments, large and small. W&L has given me more opportunities than I ever could have dreamed of. I have studied abroad four times, maintained a fully-committed and intense athletic experience and created great relationships with my professors. Three of my classes last semester even had their final meeting at the professors' houses. At one meeting, I performed a dramatic reading of one of my creative writing pieces, so the evening turned out to be an interesting one, to say the least.

While there are so many things I love about this school, my day-to-day life revolves primarily around volleyball. Unfortunately, as a senior, my four years are coming to an end, but upon reflection I realize how important these memories are to me. I will start with preseason. As a bystander, preseason seems a bit crazy. You play a sport for 9 hours a day in a gym with no air conditioning in the August heat. You spend every moment with the same 18 people and given how many ice bags we use, it looks more like we were beaten up than playing volleyball. However, preseason is one of my favorite times of the year. I cannot explain how fun it is to play with your team after a summer off, or how great the chocolate milk in D-Hall is after a workout, or the naptime we get in between practices. I do not even want to think about next year when August rolls around and I will not be there to eat our coach's wife's fruit pizza at the "beginning of season" dinner (her fruit pizza is legendary).

Adding classes to the mix makes things a bit more complicated. Changing my mindset from "eat, sleep, volleyball" to Spanish literature and the complications faced by multi-national corporations is a bit of a challenge, but makes life all the more exciting. Through small, discussion-based classes and great relationships with my professors, I have grown more as a student, public speaker, and thinker than I ever thought would be possible.

My college experience at W&L has also fostered my love for immersing myself in other cultures. I began my study abroad journeys my sophomore year, during our Spring Term at W&L. I spent time in Belize studying the economics of tropical seascapes. My fellow students and I surveyed tourists to quantify a value for coral reef ecosystems; we presented this research at an academic fair at the end of the year. After this trip, I knew I wanted to expand my horizons further and take advantage of each study abroad opportunity. Between the summer of 2012 and the summer of 2013, I worked at a media company in London for two months, studied in Sevilla, Spain for five months, and played on a volleyball tour in Costa Rica. Each of these opportunities has provided me with a completely unique experience and given me something different and very special to take home with me.

Overall, Washington and Lee has broadened my horizons academically, socially and athletically. I have a great number of memories to take with me the rest of my life and the skills I need to pursue a career of my choosing.